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Symbiotic bacteria enhance exercise performance
  1. Jon O Lundberg1,
  2. Chiara Moretti1,
  3. Nigel Benjamin2,
  4. Eddie Weitzberg1
  1. 1 Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2 NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jon O Lundberg, Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm 171 65, Sweden; jon.lundberg{at}

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In a recent Nature Medicine article Scheiman and colleagues studied the influence of the gut microbiome on exercise performance in elite runners and identified a performance-enhancing microbe belonging to the genus Veillonella.1 The bacterium Veillonella atypica was enriched in marathon runners after a race and inoculation of the same strain into mice increased exhaustive treadmill run time. The authors suggest that V. atypica improves run time via its metabolic conversion of exercise-induced lactate into propionate, thereby identifying a natural, microbiome-encoded enzymatic process that enhances athletic performance. Here we highlight an additional means by which Veillonella may help to achieve the same result (figure 1).

Figure 1

Inorganic nitrate from endogenous and dietary sources is metabolised in humans to nitrite and then nitric oxide and other bioactive nitrogen oxides with effects on mitochondrial function and skeletal muscle contraction. Oral nitrate reducing bacteria …

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the conceptualisation and writing of this article.

  • Funding This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 675111, along with the Swedish Research Council.

  • Competing interests JOL, NB and EW are co-inventors on patents related to performance enhancing effects of nitrate and nitrite and co-directors of Heartbeet Ltd.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.